Indian's Qatar assault videos go viral

Screenshot of a WhatsApp video showing the assault of an Indian man in Qatar
Image caption Videos of the assault are being shared on WhatsApp

The videos of an Indian man in Qatar being beaten up by a group of men from his native state of Kerala have gone viral on social media.

The assault happened reportedly over anti-Islam Facebook posts, and Qatari police had to intervene.

Some reports say the man has denied doing so and this was a case of mistaken identity.

The Indian embassy termed the incident "unfortunate" and says it has sought consular access to the man.

The incident took place near a mall in Doha on Friday, when a group approached and confronted the man about screenshots of Facebook comments against the Prophet and Islam that had been circulating among the Keralite expatriate community.

Other shoppers joined in and beat up the man, while some employees from the mall tried to stop the assault.

Several filmed the incident, and videos and photographs from the event have gone viral on WhatsApp.

The video shows a crowd of about a hundred gathered outside the mall, and a group surrounding the man and manhandling him.

Girish Kumar, president of the Doha-based Indian Cultural Centre, said such a "shameful" incident was happening for the first time in the peaceful Indian community.

"The government is still investigating."

It is not clear whether the man has been detained or held by the Qatari police.

In a post on his official Facebook page, the Kerala state president of BJP party V Muraleedharan citing Qatar authorities wrote that the injured man had not committed the crimes he had been accused of and would be released after an investigation into his assault.

In a statement emailed to the BBC, the Indian embassy said they have requested the Qatari authorities to conduct "thorough investigations into an unfortunate incident in which an Indian national was reportedly beaten up by some persons on 8 May 2015".

"The embassy is concerned about the well-being of this person and has sought consular access to him."

According to the US State Department's International Religious Freedom Report for 2013, Qatari law imposes a prison sentence of up to seven years for blasphemy against Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

The law stipulates a one-year prison term or a fine of QR 1,000 ($275;£174) for producing or circulating material defaming the three religions.

Posting or sharing online content that "undermines" Qatar's "social values" or "general order" is also a punishable offence, according to an Amnesty report.

In a meeting convened on Sunday by the Qatari Interior Ministry and attended by Indian embassy and community representatives, authorities said nobody should take any "unlawful action".

The assault has been widely condemned by the Indian community.

"It was an unnecessary act. Even if he did say something offensive, there is a legal system in place. I am proud of being from a state where Muslims, Hindus and Christians live in harmony," said Fahd Abubaker, a second-generation Keralite in Qatar.

More than 500,000 Indians reside in the tiny Gulf state - making it the single largest expatriate group.